Imagine how tickled* I was to find that Virgil’s, a maker of really wonderful sodas–a brand of Reed’s, famous for its Ginger Brews–has a small selection of stevia-sweetened sodas under the “Zero” label. Available flavors are Black Cherry Cream, Real Cola, Cream Soda, and Root Beer.
(*To re-set the stage: “There’s nothing I want to like more than stevia. Saving on calories and avoiding sugar highs and subsequent crashes would be great, especially in lieu of the current mass market substitutes, which threaten [whether conclusively or not] cancerous or other growths and health side effects.”)
I sampled several four-packs’ worth of Virgil’s Zero Cream Soda and, relatively speaking, it was really fantastic, a leg up on every other stevia-based soda I’ve tried. The other flavors were good as well.
The absence of sugar alcohol is a bonus; some people have bad reactions from sugar alcohols. While I’ve not experienced such, I can definitely taste that oddly muted sweetness of the sugar alcohol when it’s present.
The “cream soda” flavor was strong on balance, and only suffered a bit for the less-immediate sweetness of stevia versus sugar/aspartame. I’d say that gulping was delicious, but under the scrutiny of the sip, some of the excellence begins to stumble. A little more bitter, a little more, well, stevia-tasting. But, on balance, Virgil’s Zero Cream Soda is now O.O.’s informal King of Stevia Soda, taking the title from Blue Sky Cherry Vanilla
But this is also an exercise in frustration. Reed, maker of the best ginger beers and such, has neglected to make a stevia version. Perhaps the Virgil’s Zero offerings are a test market of sorts.
And the price is a premium. While it seems you can order in packs of $24 from Reeds for about $27 (about $1.12 each), four packs at the local specialty food stores run $6 and up. Somehow the difference between $1.50 per 12 oz bottle and $1.12 seem like a mile apart.
Still, if you are committed to eliminating potential carcinogen-laden sweeteners, or unrefined sugar, from your diet, you sure can’t do better than paying the price of admission for Virgil’s Zero.